Welcome To The Cradle Chronicles!

These are the crazy confessions of a first time mommy, and her adventures in world "mom-ination." If you are coming to this blogsite by way of People.com, chances are you’re already familiar with my writing style and “Mommy-centric” blog fodder. If not, I'll introduce myself with this brief summary: Suffice it to say, I had a baby in May. Now, I’m not suggesting this defines me entirely, but it certainly goes a long way toward explaining my daily trials and tribulations with spit-up and dirty diapers. Which brings me to… Welcome to The Cradle Chronicles! I hope you’ll continue coming back again and again for more of my motherhood anecdotes, and I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

--Photos in Welcome section courtesy of Mimosa Arts Photography--

February 28, 2014

Let’s be honest, one’s parenting style is usually a combination of methods. Those methods are based on ideas we’ve read about in magazines or books, techniques we’ve discovered while surfing the Internet, advice we’ve received from friends and family, a lifetime of observing other people’s tactics, and a whole lot of personal trial and error. We consider all of our past experiences, mix in a bit of outside influence, and then forge our own unique parenting path. Which is, I believe, exactly as it should be.

Lately, I’ve become keenly aware of the role my past plays in how I raise my daughter. It turns out I’m totally guilty of helping history to repeat itself—for better or worse! If you’re even remotely confused by what I’m talking about, I’m referring to those funny little phrases that leave your lips only seconds before you think, “Crap. Did I just channel my mother?” You know, like the moment your kids are fighting in the back seat of the car, and you find yourself saying, “Stop it right now or I’m pulling this car over!”  Inevitably, we bring some of our childhood experiences with us… we can only hope it’s the good stuff.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to add a new category to my blog: “Then & Now.” It is a way to incorporate some of the stories and pictures from my own past, many which seem to parallel my current parenting adventures. If nothing else, I figure you’ll enjoy laughing at the ridiculous photos I’ve dredged up!

 

Sit Down!

Sit Down! (Left: little me in 1979/Right: Gray in 2014)

 

For my first edition of “Then & Now,” I thought I’d tackle this little childhood gem: my propensity to climb on televisions, tables, sofas, and the like. Of course, since payback’s a you-know-what, my daughter delights in the same pastime. Ne’er a day goes by that I don’t catch myself shouting the words, “Sit down!” into the wind. In fact, I use that phrase so often that Gray has begun telling herself to sit down before the words have even escaped my lips. This scenario is typically followed by the sort of maniacal laughter only a two year-old (well, almost two) can deliver. The impish gleam in her eyes is a familiar one, and it takes me back to my youth… Oh how we rascals love to scale the furniture!

 

Wish me luck. I need it.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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February 21, 2014
Accessory Queen

My Lil’ Accessory Queen

 

        When I was about ten years old, a little boy named Mikey** (**This name has been changed to protect the fashion “unconscious”…) lived across the street. He was your typical five-year old it seemed, except for the fact that he was mildly obsessed with a pair of canary yellow rain boots. No joke, I never saw the kid without them. It’s a 95-degree, scorcher of a summer day? Canary yellow rain boots. There’s two feet of snow, and the pond is covered with ice? Canary yellow rain boots. I recall feeling somewhat sorry for his mother who, I suspect, had visions of Cross Trainers, cowboy kicks, Nike high tops, and Buster Brown saddle shoes dancing in her head at night. A pair of Chuck Taylor’s would probably have made her downright drunk with enthusiasm! But alas, there were only the aforementioned canary yellow rain boots. I never quite understood Mikey’s fascination, but those galoshes made his world go ‘round. I even overheard his mother mention that he would launch into hysterics if she didn’t let him sleep in them; temper tantrums ensued if she fought him on wearing them to school. (Which transpired every morning, by the way, because apparently he felt sneakers were the devil incarnate.) Oh yes, and did I fail to mention he often paired those boots with his Batman cape? He was the best-dressed superhero on the block. Anyway, I recall wondering why his mother bothered battling his favorite ensemble in the first place, since everybody knows you can’t argue logic with a five year-old. Heck, you can’t argue logic with some adults, never mind a Kindergartner. Children don’t care that recess might not be as constructive… what kid preemptively thinks about the trials and tribulations of climbing a jungle gym in Wellingtons? (I can only imagine what an adventure dodgeball must have been!) Regardless, I am reminded of this quirky little neighborhood anecdote, because of my daughter’s current obsession with hats… and legwarmers… and barrettes… and sunglasses. The list goes on. Yes, this month’s blog is about something totally frivolous: accessories.

I know, I know, parenting is rife with complex and meaningful things to discuss and contemplate, such as existentialism as it relates to breastfeeding, and the metaphysics of motherhood. (Don’t go rushing to look those subjects up on Wikipedia; I’m totally making them up.) Nevertheless, sometimes it’s just nice to talk about the simple things in life… to take a break from the controversial “mommy war” woes, or our self-inflicted fears of inadequate parenting. Every now and then, it’s a relief to have a shallow escape. It’s much like choosing to watch Pretty Woman (for the ten thousandth time), instead of that documentary on the hostile takeover of machines. Of course, having a one-year old on my hands makes the idea of sitting through an entire movie of ANY kind highly impractical (if not laughable), but I think you catch my drift. This blog post may not be nearly as thought-provoking as some of the others I’ve written, but I’d like to think it has its merits.

 

And now back to the academic nobility of accessories. So to speak.

More Accessories

Hats, & Barrettes, & Bows, OH MY!

 

My little Gray is a girly-girl all the way, which sometimes surprises me, given that she isn’t overly dainty. That said, she loves her bows, bracelets, tiaras, and tutus. If she were capable of it, she’d scale Mt. Everest –or at least her armoire– to retrieve a pair of sparkly sunglasses. And you think I was a cap collector as a kid? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, my friends! My daughter puts my hat loving to shame. There isn’t a tam she’d turn down, or a beret she’d balk at. In fact… one evening, when she was in a bit of a foul mood thanks to teething miseries, she pointed to a particularly fancy fedora on my closet shelf. “Hat,” she whimpered through crocodile tears. My husband retrieved it for her and she placed it on her own head. The waterworks immediately stopped. “More hat,” she said with a small smirk, and pointed to a winter knit that hung from a hook on our wall. Again, my husband took it down and handed it to her. A moment later, once the requested brims were piled high on top of her head, we were looking at the most contented girl in the world; no tears were in sight, as she pranced around in her happy hats for the next several hours. Who needs bribery or “time-outs” when you have remedy by hat collection?

Grocery Shopping

Too Cool For Grocery Shopping

 

When I say my daughter “loves accessories,” I’m not sure you can truly appreciate the depth of that statement. I mean she won’t get out of the car without the perfect acoutrements. She requests pigtails and bows before grocery store outings. She steals bracelets from my closet, and drags out my most colorful shoes. She’d bring her scarves into the bathtub if I let her. (Alas, the line must be drawn somewhere, as rubber duckies do not require neckwear. At least as far as I know, anyway.) My point is, Gray adores accessories in a way that is different from most toddlers. I often have mothers stop and marvel at how I “get her to keep sunglasses on.” Little do they know, that requires no effort on my part whatsoever.  One woman recently commented, “Your daughter keeps her shades on? I can’t even get my kid to keep his pants on!” Here’s hoping her kid isn’t in his 20’s.

 

Gray’s fondness happens to be for accessories, but I find it fascinating what other kids do (or don’t) latch onto as well. One of my Cradle Chronicles blog readers wrote to me in September, detailing her daughter’s obsession with wearing orange. (Orange is the new black, after all, right?) Apparently her sweet tot refuses to dress in any other color! And from what I can tell, that isn’t an anomaly. On the other side of things, there are also the items children won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. I, for one, abhorred wearing jeans until I was well into my teens. I would sooner have sported a burlap sack to elementary school, than to have poured myself into a pair of acid-washed denim dungarees. What’s that, you say? You hated jeans? But jeans are a staple!! Crazy, right? (I also despised pizza at the time, so I was clearly a bit off-kilter.)

Like Mama, Like Daughta

Like Mama, Like Daughta

 

So far, Gray isn’t shunning any articles of clothing, but she certainly has her affinities. I’m often stunned by the number of opinions she asserts, in reference to her daily apparel. Who knew 21-month olds were so particular about which color socks to wear? My baby is a fashion maven in the making—the littlest Project Runway protégé on the planet. And while I am very reluctant to encourage a material obsession with clothes (pun intended), I am a huge proponent of encouraging self-expression through one’s wardrobe. Clothing has always offered me the chance to convey my unique style and spirit, and it warms my heart to see Gray embracing the same methods.

 

Speaking of which…

Rockin' The Roller Skating Attire In The 80's... Sort Of.

Rockin’ The Roller Skating Attire In The 80′s… Sort Of.

 

Looking back, I’m terrified at some of the things I wore out in public when I was younger. Can we talk about the awful effect the 80’s had on my fashion sense?! (I suspect I’m not alone in that observation.) My Mom was a brave woman to let me experience my freedom of expression in that way. In some cases, she was a brave woman to let me out of the house at all, but we’ll let that slide for now. I hope I’ll be equally courageous in my parenting, because I think motherhood is often about adjusting your way of thinking to fit your child’s personality. Please don’t misunderstand me here- I’m not saying you shouldn’t set crucial boundaries for your child; they aren’t meant to raise themselves. The way I see it, it’s about bending without breaking, and setting my daughter on a positive path without sacrificing my own parenting convictions. It’s about letting Gray take some poetic license, without exceeding the ethical limitations I’ve set. I acknowledge that those boundaries vary from parent to parent, but mine include letting my kid pick out some of her own outfit each day. (Within reason, of course!) It might surprise you to hear this, but I’m actually a relatively conservative mom. Yes, I have tattoos and I grew up in show business, but I was raised in a fairly traditional household, by parents that wholeheartedly promoted respect and courtesy. I love that it takes all kinds to make the world, and I wouldn’t want it any other way, but my husband and I tend to take an “old-fashioned” approach to our parenting. And that certainly transfers over into what Gray wears… We want our daughter to be proud of what she puts on her body. Moreover, we want her to be proud of the body that wears it. All of that said, I don’t care if she matches, or if her hair is askew (as is often the case), or if she wants to wear a pair of boy’s pants instead of a dress. Self-confidence should supersede all of those things, and if Gray feels good about her choices, I’m proud of that. Sure, there will likely come a day when I’m forced to say, “No, you can’t wear that miniskirt to school, “ or “I’m not okay with your midriff showing.” But all in due time. For now we’re just focusing on the accessories, and I’m content letting her choose her own adventure where those are concerned! I’d like to think her choices are assisting her in acquiring a sense of pride and accomplishment. No matter how insignificant it may seem in the whole scheme of things, she is still exercising her independence each time she selects her own belt or feathered hair clip.  She is learning to appreciate the decision-making process, while brushing up on her knowledge of colors and clothing-related vocabulary. Best of all, she is learning to be unique. She is learning to be her version of Gray. And that’s the only Gray there should be.

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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February 14, 2014
Unspoken Love

Unspoken Love~ Photo By Mimosa Arts Photography

 

Sometimes love can be found in the subtlest of details or the briefest of moments. My daughter recently began saying those three little words every parent treasures hearing, but I knew her intentions long before the phrase “I love you” was uttered aloud. Actions truly do speak loudest!

Gray has heard those same words fall from my lips thousands of times in her young life. I don’t reserve them for special occasions or limit them to once a day. I don’t believe they lose significance over time, or suffer from the risk of being overused, or become unnecessary to articulate once the message has gotten through. I am a firm believer in reinforcement—of professing my love openly and often. Most importantly, I mean it every single time I say it. I’d like to think we all do… that such a deep expression of our hearts isn’t thrown around with reckless abandon.

I won’t lie– it is an incredible feeling to be the recipient of that dazzling assertion, especially when it’s coming from a child. The first time my daughter returned my “I love you,” I welled up with tears and called my husband at work to share the news. But if I’m being honest, Gray’s heart communicated that special sentiment long before her lips could form the sentence. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share five of my favorite moments of unspoken love…

 

1. A few months ago, Gray began calling my name when she awakens from a nap. Since she was old enough to sit up by herself, Gray would pop up, grab her pacifier, and quietly sit in bed until I came to retrieve her. These days, she sweetly calls out for me instead, even before her sleepy eyes open. I cherish knowing my face is the first thing she wants to see.

2. As you already know, I’m an animal lover through and through. Because of this fact, I tend to get very choked up when a canine best friend is lost. A dear friend’s dog recently passed away, and I took it pretty hard. I know some of our own pups are getting up there in years as well, and it’s never fun to reflect on that. Noticing that tears had formed in my eyes, Gray came over to hug me. She pulled back, looked at me intently, wiped my tears away with her little fingers, and asked, “Cry?” “Yes,” I told her, “Mommy is crying.” “Oh Honey,” she said in the motherly tone of voice I so often use with her. I immediately began smiling. Her sensitivity and empathy never fail to melt my heart!

3. Gray is incredibly affectionate, and unafraid of showing it. One evening, I absentmindedly let my hair down from a ponytail and shook it out. As I ran my fingers through the tangles, I happened to glance over at Gray. She was watching in awe, with a goofy little grin on her face. “Oh Mommy,” she cried when we made eye contact. She then put her hands on either side of my face and went in for a giant, sloppy kiss. I guess I should let my hair down more often… literally and figuratively.

4. No one else in this world is quite so enthusiastic when I walk into a room. One afternoon, when I returned from a meeting, Gray greeted me at the top of the stairs. “Mommy’s home!” she shouted with unrestrained glee. Of course that sentence was followed by, “Boobie’s home!” But who’s counting? At least she put me before the breastaurant!

5. I cuddle with her EVERY morning, and she lets me. Sure, sometimes I have to share her with our five dogs, but there’s plenty of love to go around.  We cozy up on the couch, huddle under my bathrobe, and watch Sesame Street together. It’s our special time to quietly adore one another, and I’ll take advantage of it for as long as I can!

 

Cuddling

Cherishing Our Cuddle Time

 

I thoroughly enjoy hearing from all of you… What are some of the beautiful ways in which your children say ”I love you” without words? If you feel inspired to let me know, please do!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours.

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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Until next time…

  • Keri says:

    One day long ago when I was driving home from work after picking up my son who was about 2.5 years old, he exclaimed from the backseat that “when he grows up he will marry me and get to sit up in the front seat next to me”. I will never forget his sweet little voice!

  • Desiree says:

    My daughter is now nearly 14 but when she was younger, she made a construction paper gift with an acrostic poem from the word “MOM.” The first line was “my mom’s birthday is Nov 12th”. The second “Open” and the third line was my favorite and to this day, it makes me giggle. It said “My mom makes the moonshine.” It’s an adorable sentiment but obviously, there should have been a space. She also told me when she was little that “no matter what, you will always be my favorite person”

February 7, 2014

 

Hot Chocolate

Love In The Time Of Hot Chocolate!

     

      With all this talk of the Polar Vortex, blizzards, and massive cold fronts, I’m left hankering for something warm and wonderful. No, I’m not referring to sipping umbrella adorned Mai Tais on a Hawaiian beach, or frolicking through waves on the shores of Bali. I’m talking about the only immediate remedy I can think of for the frigid temperatures of a snowy, winter day…

Hot Chocolate!!

There’s nothing quite like wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of cocoa, while the rest of you is shivering in a state of deep freeze. Nothing compares to that creamy, chocolatey goodness, that fluffy mound of whipped cream, or that gooey marshmallow topping. (Unless you are my husband, who thinks marshmallows are the Napalm of food products) Not to mention, a cup of cocoa can put a smile on your kid’s face faster than a monkey doing the Macarena. And that’s saying something.

We are quickly approaching February 14th… that special day when cupid flies, crowds descend upon Godiva Chocolatier, and Hallmark sells cards en masse. Yes, Valentine’s Day is nearly here. But in my book, the “holiday” isn’t just about the love a wife shares with her spouse; it’s about the love a mother shares with her child. Love comes in many different forms, but it should be celebrated regardless, right?  So this Valentine’s Day, why not give your kid a little love in the form of cocoa?

 

I’m going to.

 

Love In The Time Of Hot Chocolate… (With Honey Vanilla Whipped Cream!)

(Recipe created by Jenna von Oy)

 

Cocoa Ingredients

The Ingredients…

 

Ingredients: Cocoa Mix

 

1  Cup Dutch processed cocoa

3/4  Cup Confectioner’s sugar

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Bar of 70% bittersweet chocolate bar

1 tsp Sea salt

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/8 tsp Cardamom

(you will also need whole milk when you heat the cocoa, but the above recipe makes several cups of powdered mixture. I store mine in a glass mason jar in my pantry, where it’s cool enough to keep for a while!)

 

Directions:  You will be heating a ratio of one cup whole milk to 1 and 1/2 tbs of cocoa mix. You can add more cocoa mix, if you prefer a stronger beverage. I’ll let you do the math on how much milk you will need, based on how many family members you are making cocoa for!

~ Heat the milk in a small pot on the stove, on medium

~ Once the milk is sufficiently hot and frothy, add the cocoa mix and whisk until well incorporated and dissolved.

~ Pour into a mug!

 

Ingredients: Honey Vanilla Whipped Cream

 

1 Cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbs Honey

1/2 tsp Madagascar vanilla bean paste (you can substitute extract, if need be, but the paste is much tastier, and doesn’t thin out the cream!)

 

Directions: 

~ Put all ingredients into a large metal mixing bowl. I always put my bowl into the freezer first, so the bowl is ice cold when I begin. It makes for a stiffer whipped cream!

~ Using an electric hand whisk (or whatever mixing tool you prefer), whisk until the cream forms peaks.

~ Put a spoonful of whipped cream on top of the hot cocoa just before serving. The sweetness of the whipped cream dissolves into the cocoa, and makes for a beautiful flavor!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • NW Mamma says:

    what a great cocoa receipe, I will definately try it out! thank you
    Gray reminds me so much of my girl’s (reason for following your blog)
    Your words take me back to a time of my life that I just loved. My girl’s are 21yrs and 25yrs. and I can still think of them at Gray’s age. Thank you Jenna for sharing your adventures and milestones with Gray. I love to read your blogs they are so heartfelt and honest in a good way!

January 31, 2014

 

Personality Galore!

Personality Galore!

 

If I was ever concerned about the potential of having a child with zero personality, boy was I wrong. And I do mean wrong in the biggest sense of the word. Wrong with a capital “W.” Wrong like Donald Trump’s comb-over, or a rug made from back hair, or trying to teach a cat to pee on the toilet. That’s how seriously wrong I would have been.

(I’m sorry for those visuals. Truly, I am.)

Even though she’s merely 20-months old, I can tell you Gray will never be a wallflower. She won’t be the kid who prefers to sit on the sidelines during a game, or smiles politely and lets someone else win an argument. She will have to work to perfect her poker face, because her dramatic and expressive looks tend to give everything away. No really– everything! (Not that I’m complaining. Perhaps it will assist me during her teenage years, cluing me in before she sneaks out of the house or “borrows” my car without asking.) Suffice it to say, Gray wears her emotions on her sleeve, just like her mama. Subtlety is just not our forte! And while that may not serve us well in certain instances, it has definitely helped me in my occupation as an actress. I’m not suggesting my daughter will follow the same career path, but judging by her range of expressions, that notion might not be so farfetched! I’ll let you decide for yourself…

My Little Ham

My Little Ham

 

And then there’s her more “serious” side…

 

The "Serious" Side

The “Serious” Side

 

Like I said. The acting thing may not be too farfetched. God forbid!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

PPS. Don’t forget to join my Twitter too!

 

January 24, 2014

   

 

 These days, in the world according to Gray, everything is rainbows and butterflies. (Save for the rare occasion when a babysitter comes-a-knocking, but that’s another story!) Impromptu kitchen dance parties are encouraged, and people are prone to randomly bursting into songs about broccoli or potty training. Mommy and Daddy offer endless kisses and cuddles, strangers always smile back, everything is a learning opportunity, and disappointment is mostly fleeting. Reality is essentially a Sesame Street revival, minus the Muppets. Welcome to seeing life through the eyes of a 20-month old!

Since this is my first blog of 2014, I thought I’d give you an update on the neat little human we get to share our lives with. Now that Gray is beyond the infant phase and well into the throes of Toddler-dom, we are discovering just what a character we are raising! Her current age is, in short, incredible and incredibly trying. But most of all, it’s truly inspiring to watch our baby turn into a little girl… And a very happy-go-lucky one at that! I feel thoroughly blessed. Gray is unbelievably sweet, emotionally generous, intuitive and inquisitive, eager to be challenged, and quite comedic in her own right. She also happens to be super easygoing– unless it is nap time, of course, when “cranky” is sometimes a fitting adjective. But heck, I get cranky when I’m overtired too. Or when I don’t eat. Or when someone runs a stop sign and then has the audacity to honk at me for being in their way… But I digress. In general, Gray has a calm demeanor with a hint of stubbornness. And let’s be honest, she was probably genetically predestined to have the latter. I’m just saying.

As she moves toward her second birthday, Gray is constantly pushing the bounds of her physical and mental limitations. She certainly keeps us on our toes, but we can’t help but laugh our way through it all. It’s hard not to, given her innate comic timing! Her sense of humor never ceases to amaze us, and often catches us by surprise. If I thought sarcasm and wit were personality traits that wouldn’t reveal themselves for many years to come, boy was I wrong! My daughter is goofy, funny, full of vim and vigor, and smart as a whip. She is a force to be reckoned with. Oh yeah, and she knows it.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting we don’t have some trying times here at our house. The notorious “terrible twos” are on the horizon, and the dark and stormy clouds roll past from time to time. For the most part, I believe any fit or foul attitude (which have been very minor thus far, thankfully) is generally based on Gray’s inability to properly articulate her intentions. It must be frustrating to feel like she can never adequately express herself! I’m doing my best to practice patience when her temper flares, and she tries to do the same for me. I’d like to think we make a pretty good team.

Despite our attempts at patience, we certainly have our share of vocabulary battles. There are moments when my daughter and I are speaking two different languages, and things get lost in translation. For example, there was the time she politely asked to snack on mango, and I mistook it as a request for mushrooms. She typically loves mushrooms, but when you are craving a mango, there’s apparently no room for the consideration of fungi. The mango versus mushroom debate was enough to send her over the edge. And then there was the toast debacle that immediately followed. (In case you haven’t already guessed, naptime couldn’t come quickly enough that day!) During another failed attempt at decoding toddler-ese, I thought Gray was informing me that she was hungry… turns out she needed to go to the potty. Oops, my bad.

The occasional language barrier notwithstanding, Gray’s speaking abilities are advancing rapidly and most statements are remarkably clear. Her growth has been exponential. In fact, I think her vocabulary tripled after we spent the Christmas holiday with my siblings! It’s neat when she suddenly strings a whole sentence together, or recites words I wasn’t aware she knew such as “freckle,” “sushi,” and “excuse me.” I silently celebrate each time that last phrase is uttered; it’s like getting an invisible gold star in Parenting 101. There’s a lot of pride that comes from hearing my child extend polite words without being told to! Here’s hoping we can continue to nurture that.

In honor of Gray’s recent whimsies and witticisms, I thought I’d let her detail some of the fun facts regarding the current state of affairs in her world… Sort of. I’m certain she’d share these observations with you herself, were her inner dictionary extensive enough to do so. Let’s just say I channeled her sentiments and spirited attitude, and ran with it. It’s all in good fun!

 

The world according to Gray:

1. Yogurt and pickles are to be eaten obsessively, though not at the same time and only until Mommy cuts me off… which, sadly, is always too soon.

2. Brushing my teeth is an elective sport, and is mainly employed as a decoy at bedtime. One of these days, I’ll actually get Mommy to forget it’s time for me to go to sleep. It’s a work in progress.

3. Elmo is my BFF and my hero. Mommy isn’t a huge fan of idolizing music or TV icons, but she seems to be cool with my friends on Sesame Street. She says, “Better Elmo than Justin Beiber, I suppose.” Elmo is quite the superstar around here, and makes Barney look like an overstuffed goofball. (No offense, my high-strung purple pal.) In my humble opinion, Elmo should be present at the dinner table, tucked into bed at night, introduced to every houseguest, and even posted on the Christmas tree in lieu of the traditional star. Mommy tries to be as accommodating as possible, though sometimes Elmo’s celebrity status gets a bit excessive for her. Between you and I, I suspect she might be jealous.

Elmo-new

A Star Is Born

 

4. Bedtime isn’t complete without a menagerie of stuffed animals and baby dolls within my line of sight. In case of an emergency, they are there for moral support. I mean, what if one of them wakes up in the middle of the night from a bad dream?  I hate to hear Gus Giraffe cry.

5. Chapstick, otherwise known as ‘’chappy,’’ is technically a face crayon. It is to be applied liberally, whether or not it is actually necessary to cure dry lips. (Mama’s sidebar: Thankfully, the chapstick we have is kid-friendly and all natural. That said, I’ve banned its use indefinitely. Note to self, hide all makeup until she’s 30!).

6. When I’m loud, fear not. When I’m quiet, be afraid. Be very afraid. (Insert maniacal, wicked laughter here.)

Be Afraid

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

 

7. New vocabulary words are mentally filed away for later use, sometimes at the expense of Mommy and Daddy’s ability to sneak in conversations about subjects they refer to as, “for adult ears only.” Super fun terms like “fester” and “darn” are amusing to whip out when Mommy and Daddy least expect it, because it makes them realize just how much I’m listening and absorbing. A good example would be the time I overheard someone on a TV show say a bad word I wasn’t supposed to repeat, that rhymed with “truck.” Mommy and Daddy quickly changed the channel, and I’ve forgotten all about it. For now.

8. The best song to dance to is the Castle theme song. Call me crazy, but I’d take that over It’s A Small World any day! You’re skeptical? Go watch the opening credits, and see if you aren’t bopping your head to the beat and whistling along. It’s so catchy that Mommy even caught me dancing to it in my sleep!

9. Floors are prettiest when festooned with Hello Kitty and Curious George stickers, and a refrigerator is a canvas just waiting for its masterpiece. As is the front door. And the wall. And any other surface that screams out for my creative touch. After all, I am an artiste! My grandma gave me an awesome art easel for Christmas, so I’m learning how to hone my skills without making Mommy bust out the cleaning sponge… Though I’ll admit it’s pretty funny to watch her scramble when I “forget!”  (Mama’s sidebar: Needless to say, we are keeping a close eye on our mini-Michelangelo!)

I'm An Artiste

Mama’s Little Michelangelo

 

10. Puppies aren’t just pets; they are siblings. Consider that my warning. Those rascals tear open your Christmas presents, chew your socks, steal your afternoon snacks, and crawl into mommy’s lap while you are attempting to have quiet cuddle time. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience! On the other hand, they are also experts at photobombing, which I consider to be one of their redeeming qualities.

11. Hats are a cure-all. No one can possibly cry while wearing a funny hat. They should teach that in therapy! Not that I’ve ever been… I’m not even two, for Pete’s sake!

12. Bibs are futile accessories, as clothing is meant to be caked with food at all times. This includes socks and shoes, and often includes Mommy’s clothing as well. Any day that ends with clean apparel is an unsuccessful day indeed.  (Bonus points for getting food stuck in Mommy’s cleavage without her realizing it!)

 13. Straws are never to be used individually, but rather in abundance. Also, the more colorful the straws are, the better the beverage tastes.

The Final Straw

The Final Straw

 

14. Every time Mommy & Daddy say they are proud, a cookie or animal cracker should be negotiated. This almost never works, but I’m not giving up on it.

15. Any pens hooked over Daddy’s shirt lapel are just begging to be stolen. Any important work papers within reach on Mommy’s desk are just begging to be drawn on.

16. Peekaboo is for babies; utensils are the hip thing now! Unloading the dishwasher is a most enjoyable party game (Pin the tail on the donkey and Twister are WAY old school), and putting silverware in the drawer is cause for celebration and applause. During a recent tornado drill at my daycare, the teachers herded all of us into the basement, only to find me clutching my lunch silverware for dear life. Laugh all you like (they did), but you can’t say I’m not enterprising. At least if there had been a catastrophe, I would have been able to dig us out with a spork!

17. The more Christmas presents, the merrier. (Thanks for spoiling me, Grandmas!) It should be noted that the wrapping paper is equally as entertaining as the gift.

The More The Merrier

The More The Merrier

 

18. If it’s good enough for Mommy, it’s good enough for me. This is my official “Tao of Gray,” and is also known as: whatever Mommy has should be mine. The motto works when referencing food, clothing, and any item in Mommy’s purse. This especially includes that wonderful little iPhone thingamajig that I desperately yearn for, despite the fact that I haven’t figured out how to unlock it. YET.

19. Clearly, baby Proofing was installed so I would have an engaging puzzle to conquer. Spoiler alert: foam table corners can be peeled off, gate latches require some discipline but they’re doable, and toilet locks are a fool’s attempt at keeping me from finagling toys and toothpaste tubes underneath the lid.

20. You want to know a really fun joke to play on your dad? Steal his glasses and hide them in the laundry hamper. It’s hilarious watching your parents scour the house searching for them, and I promise your dad will laugh, despite his frustration. (Of course, that’s only if he actually locates them, so don’t hide them too well.) A joke on Mom is always fascinating too. Try this: Next time you’re in a public place, especially if you can manage to pull this off at church, point to your mom’s blouse and enthusiastically shout, “Boobie!” It’s really hilarious to watch your mom squirm. If you’re particularly lucky, her face will turn three shades of red.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into what our life is like with Gray these days… Who knows, maybe you were nodding and chuckling knowingly at her list, as you pictured your little one saying and doing similar things. Pretty soon Gray will be able to hold her own in a conversation, and I won’t have to wonder what’s going through that pretty little head of hers. Until then, I just can’t help speculating! It’s far too amusing.

As always, I love hearing from you, so please feel free to add your own observations in the comment section below. What would your child say if you could put words in his or her mouth?

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • Kim Q says:

    Gray is such a cutie! I love her boots. :)

    My older daughter (7) was getting a new pair of glasses this week. The optician was adjusting them so they would stay where they were meant to stay on her face. He had to go into the back about 3 times during this process to get them sized appropriately. The third time he went back, she asked me, “How many pairs of glasses did they make for me anyway?” I got quite a chuckle out of that one, and she laughed too when I told her that he was only adjusting the one pair.

    (At 7 and 3, I no longer have to put words in my children’s mouths. They have oh so many words of their own!)

    All the best!

  • Melissa says:

    Gorgeous family and what a gorgeous little girl! LOVE her outfit–do tell WHERE did you get the top, boots, and hat?!! I have a divalicious three year old girl who would LOVE that whole ensemble :)

    • Thank you!! I found Gray’s boots on Ebay, so I’m not sure where you might locate a pair now. I believe they are Gap from a few years ago… The sweater, pants, and hat are from Janie & Jack!

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for the info! Love it all. LOVE!!

  • Marina says:

    I Had so much fun reading your blog, I also have a little one and could identify so many of the situations!!!!
    Have a wonderful year !

  • amanda says:

    As a mother of a 20 month old little boy, I know exactly what you are going thru and love reading your blog! It’s coem to my attention recently just how often I say “oh s**t”! Everytime my son drops somethng, falls or decides to ram his cars into the wall he feels the urge to repeat those words very clearly and not to my surprise but probably more clearly than most words he repeats :) I guess it’s time for mom and dad to watch what they say or buy some “earmuffs” for our little one!

January 17, 2014
Sneaking A Taste!

Gray & Auntie Alyssa… Sneaking a taste!

 

Our Christmas was beautifully chaotic. All of my siblings and I, as well as our loved ones (significant others and Gray), flocked to my parents’ house in Connecticut for some family fun and festive traditions. As always, there was an abundance of cookie baking, tree decorating, caroling, and gift exchanging. But this year, a new and unique tradition took hold.

Cue the figgy pudding. No, this isn’t a joke.

What is figgy pudding, exactly? I’m so glad you’ve asked. I’ve spent years singing the dangerously catchy tune, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and cursing its infectious melody. You know the one…

 

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

 

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring us some figgy pudding

Now bring some out here

 

We won’t go until we get some… I imagine you can fill in the rest.

 

Despite the absurd number of times I’ve sung this song in my lifetime, it seems I’d never really thought to ask the most crucial of questions: “What the hell is figgy Pudding and why is it so special??!!” Thanks to my sister, that changed over Christmas. It then lead me to ask another crucial question: “Am I missing out on something so life-changing and delicious that I shouldn’t experience another December without it?” Believe it or not, I actually have an answer for you on both counts, and I think you might find the story somewhat interesting. Maybe.

The Illustrious Figgy Pudding

 

Part One: Why the figgy pudding recipe was attempted in the first place.

(Aka: are we crazy?)

Oh, how I wish the inquiry (and subsequent adventure) had been my idea! But alas, it was not. I give full credit to my sister, Alyssa, who has apparently been pondering the existence of said figgy pudding for quite some time now. As she so aptly phrased it, “What is this thing that’s so delightful, it’s causing people to sing and freakishly refuse to leave until they’ve had some? Also, if it’s that tasty, why can’t I seem to find anyone who’s tried it?” Evidently, once the thought of attempting the confounding confection entered her consciousness, it just wouldn’t leave again. I always love it when folks get neurotically needful of baked goods, don’t you? Anyway, given my dad’s propensity for being creative in the kitchen, my sister knew he was the right sous-chef for the job. And thus began the quixotic quest.

Operation Figgy Pudding commenced on night one of our Connecticut trip. As we gathered around the dinner table, feasting on roast pork and discussing the intricacies of the half-completed jigsaw puzzle on a nearby poker table, Alyssa happened to mention her proposed baking plans. I immediately jumped on it. After all, why on earth have I never thought to make this heavenly thing called figgy pudding?  I’m clearly losing my touch. It launched me into an immediate figgy fog… fig-uratively speaking, of course. I’m not much of a baker myself, so I was content to be the innocently bystanding figgy groupie, while my sister and father forged ahead. My dad found a recipe online and, in true von Oy fashion, he tweaked it until it only vaguely resembled the recipe it once was. He even added brandy to the ingredient list, God bless him.

 

Part Two: The pudding itself…

I’ll start by saying this: figgy Pudding is not quite as glamorous or regal as one might expect, given it is still being sung about so enthusiastically. It’s wonderfully fun and British, but not exactly the picture of magnificence I was hoping for. (Mind you, I’m not sure what I was anticipating. It’s just a dessert, for Pete’s sake.) My understanding is that figgy pudding is described as a “pudding containing figs” (as if that weren’t obvious by the name alone), and dates back to 16th century England. There seems to be some variation of thought concerning the cooking methods and ingredients. (For example: to employ alcohol or not to employ alcohol? Of course, the answer to that should always be a resounding “yes.”). Suffice it to say it’s a sort of custardy cake with figs. The rest is essentially up to the baker to mess around with, though I admit that assessment might cause an uprising amongst the British.

 

Part Three: The Taste Test

It should be known that there was a brief period of time in the figgy pudding baking process, during which the stench of boiling ingredients made us all want to vomit. And we aren’t weak of stomach, to say the least. Seriously, it smelled to high heaven. No joke, Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can is less putrid, and he’s been living in that thing since the inception of Sesame Street, in 1969. Imagine what’s in there now! But I digress. Once we were over that stinky hurdle, it was smooth sailing. By the time my dad and sister were through, the figgy pudding was resting snugly in his cute bundt pan and the icing was ready to be drizzled over his head.

We sat down to taste the figgy pudding with a mixture of anticipation and curiosity. Gray was the first to take a bite… My child, the brave little guinea pig! We all watched as she started chewing, then waited for her reaction. A giant smile crept onto her face. “Yum!” she declared gleefully, “More?”  The rest of us dove in, and the dessert was gone in no time. I found it to be a moist (Lord, I despise that word!), nutty cake, with a toffee pudding-like quality. In short, it was delicious. There’s really no need to say more than that.

 

Messy, But Good!

Messy, But Good!

 

The moral of this story:

I’m thoroughly addicted to figgy pudding now, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since we returned from Connecticut. (Thanks a lot, Alyssa!) I can’t believe I’ve spent so many years deprived of its yummy goodness, and I’m vowing to make it every Christmas from here on in. Consider it a new holiday tradition at our house! Maybe I’ll even hide something inside of it next year, like the classic Spanish cake, Rosca de Reyes (that’s the one with the little plastic baby Jesus miniatures baked in). Perhaps I can hide an itty bitty Richard Simmons figurine, and whoever gets it will have luck bestowed upon them all year long. Or at least be reminded to start working out again in the New Year. Clearly, this is all a work in progress. Anyway, the point is this: if the inspiration strikes, you should try making figgy pudding. I wish I could give you the recipe we used, but it was partly copied from a major food website, and I wouldn’t want to plagiarize. Guess you’ll just have to sing about it fanatically, until you can locate a decent recipe to follow… welcome to my world!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

 

Jenna von Oy

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  • NW Mamma says:

    Thank you! Finally an american you decifered the Figgy Pudding mystery, I’ve always wondered what exactly it was. I love to bake and after reading your great review of the dessert, I will now attempt my own figgy pudding next year.
    Keep on blogging, I love your stories.
    I think I enjoy the Gray photos even more, reminds me of my daughter’s when they were young. Now at 25 and 20 I am anxiously awaiting grandchildren to come in the distant future.

  • Desiree says:

    UGH! “Moist” is the WORST word in the English language! I have a friend, that used to be my teacher, many moons ago, that has an ever-expanding list of evil words that should be abolished! After 17+ years of teaching, she has quite the list! Do you have any other words that you simply cannot bear?

January 10, 2014

Gray-snowLet it snow, let it snow, let it snow… except during our travel plans, pretty please.

 

This has always been my not-so-secret Christmas wish when I’ve traveled back East to visit my parents over the holidays. After all, what’s Christmas in Connecticut without the obligatory wintery wonderland? This year was certainly no exception, as it was Gray’s first opportunity to experience the true fun of bundling up and frolicking in the snow. Nashville gets a few flurries a year, but it rarely even sticks to the ground. Alternately, I grew up with oodles of it. Snow was a welcome visitor in my childhood, one that kept us home from school and gave us permission to spend our days making snow angels instead. I recall waking up to the wonderful world of white outside of my bedroom window, mounds of powdery goodness just waiting for me to dive in. The smile on my face could have melted all of it. (But thankfully, didn’t.) Winter meant catching snowflakes on my tongue, building snowmen, ice skating on the pond behind our house, and sipping hot chocolate by the fire. So it made me downright giddy to introduce Gray to the joys of an East Coast snowfall.

Let It Snow

The storm had blown in a few nights prior to our arrival, so the sun was already taking its toll. Consequently, sledding wasn’t quite as easy as it should have been! The sweet little vintage toboggan my mom had set aside for Gray to use was getting stuck in the dense, slushy mess. Cut to: my brother suggests an amusing sled alternative.

I thought you’d appreciate the following mini photo series, which I fondly refer to as, “We’re Going On A Sleigh (er…shovel?) Ride.”

Happy snowy trails to you!

 We're Going On A Sleigh (er...shovel?) Ride

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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Christmas In Connecticut

January 3, 2014

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As December transitions into a stark, cold January, we salute the dawn of the new year by toasting to better days and declaring unwavering pledges of self-improvement. As tradition dictates, we swear off our own imperfections and usher in renewed hope, as we wave goodbye to another passing year. In other words, we are now slaves to those pesky, nagging little nuisances called, “New Year’s resolutions.”

 

In true New Year’s fashion, a night of ceremonious glass clinking inevitably gives way to elaborate plans for personal growth. Maybe the hours of Ryan Seacrest jokes, Miley Cyrus performances, and Times Square antics have rendered us overly loopy. Or perhaps we should blame the spiked punch that was put out after the kids were put to bed. Either way, we usher in the coming year with promises of grandeur, professing impossible oaths such as: “I won’t get addicted to anymore stupid reality shows,” and “I vow to never eat another piece of chocolate as long as I live.” (You know, phrases that scare us the following morning, once the champagne haze has worn off.) Some of those assertions make it to the light of day, while others don’t– their importance losing steam in the face of higher priorities as the year progresses. But the point is really that we contemplated our own shortcomings long enough to make those commitments in the first place, right?

 

Maybe?

 

Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge fan of establishing New Year’s resolutions. In theory, I should be open to bettering and enriching my life all year long, shouldn’t I? Not to mention, it’s such a daunting task to make a lifestyle overhaul before the year has even begun! But I suppose it’s also a positive and motivating way to initiate the next twelve months. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to share five things I hope to accomplish and/or work on in 2014. They aren’t all mind-blowing or life altering ambitions (though the last one begs to differ), but they are notable nonetheless. With any luck, I’ll actually stick to them!

 

 

  1. Curb the caffeine & increase my water intake: (She writes as she zealously downs her fourth cup of coffee before noon…) My husband is a huge water drinker, and he swears by it for EVERYTHING. Seriously, it’s his cure-all. You have a pain in your knee? Drink water. You’re tired? Drink water. Headache? Water. You can’t focus? Yep, you guessed it. Water. I like to mock him for it, but I know he’s mostly right. Water definitely has its benefits, and I tend to take it for granted. In fact, when given a choice between that or Starbucks, I know where my true alliance is; I pledge my allegiance to the flagship of java. I just can’t help myself. Over Christmas, we got into a water-related discussion with my sister, who is currently getting her degree in Physical Therapy. She mentioned a recent assignment she’d been given, regarding the effects of dehydration on the systems of the body. It’s fairly obvious that dehydration can cause a variety of problems, but the extent of it is downright terrifying. Much like the urge to examine one’s meat consumption after watching Fast Food Nation, my interest in drinking more water immediately peaked. Looks like I’ll be ditching some of those venti lattes for good ol’ H2O! (Note that I said “some,” not “all.” It’s a work in progress.)
  2. Practice my patience: With my husband, my child, my dogs, strangers, and even myself. We all get overwhelmed from time to time, and I know I’m guilty of getting a little hot under the collar when I do. With the terrible twos well on their way, a house full of crazy canines, and a heavy work schedule, my brain feels like it’s on a perpetual mental merry-go-round. And I mean the frantic amusement park ones, not the tame carousels at the mall. I find the anxiety creeping in more quickly these days, and I want to learn to control it with a little more finesse. I was watching Sesame Street with Gray the other morning, and they were singing a song about “belly breathing.” It’s their suggested response to frustration—taking a moment to put your hands on your stomach, breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. And I honestly think they have it right; it calms the inner monster. I’m starting to think Sesame Street is as educational for parents as it is for children!
  3. Finish “The Betweeners” and “Situation Momedy”: Perhaps you’ve heard me mention one or the other of the books I’ve penned in the last few years. Though I technically wrote “The End” on The Betweeners (my fictional book for young adults) three years ago, I’m still tweaking. Like a painter with his canvas, I can’t seem to quit adding brushstrokes here and there. My goal is to complete the project and get it out there to publishers. Similarly, I’m ready to deliver an extra dose of zany motherhood anecdotes to you all, via my other book, “Situation Momedy.” I mean who doesn’t want The Cradle Chronicles 2.0? I’m ready to buckle down and make it happen… Stay tuned.
  4. Sit down and enjoy eating lunch: This seems simple enough, but I generally find myself shoveling in crackers or a piece of fruit as I race around after Gray. Even if she is already down for her afternoon nap, I tend to forgo the quiet lunch in lieu of scanning and filing paperwork, while cramming a sandwich down my throat. I’d like to make a habit of sitting down to appreciate the food before me. For instance, chewing my food might be nice every now and then. I mean, what’s the point of eating if you can’t taste anything? Not to mention, it gives me some built in Mommy me-time. What a treat!
  5. Have another baby: God willing, my husband and I are ready to have another baby. We’ve actually been mentally prepared for a while now, but the timeline isn’t entirely up to us, after all. Here’s hoping 2014 blesses us with another beautiful soul in the family. I am the oldest of four kids, and I just can’t imagine life without my siblings! I’m sure being an only child has its merits too, but I’d love to give Gray an opportunity to be a big sister. I know she’ll be almost as thrilled as we will be to welcome another child into the house. Fingers crossed.

 

 

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday. May your new year be blessed, and your resolutions… well… resolvable!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

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  • Liz says:

    Hi Jenna,

    I wanted to send you a note to say I love your blog! I am always checking to see if you added a new one. My daughter Quinn is only a few months younger than Gray and I started reading your blog around when she was born. It’s great to hear someone else is going through the same things I am and you always make me laugh. Keep them coming :)

    Liz

  • Chris says:

    One of your new year resolutions is to drink more water. Jenna, have you tried buying one of those flavor water enhancers like Mio, Crush, the Great Value Walmart/Sam’s knockoff brand, etc. to use to squirt flavor into the water you drink yet? If not, try buying one of them so that you can drink water and enjoy it more with great tasting flavor! Hope you and your family have a Happy New Year too!

    • I haven’t tried any of the flavor enhancers, but I actually don’t mind the taste of straight up water! It’s really more a matter of forgetting to drink it, or not choosing it over something caffeinated. I definitely need to adjust my mindset about it! That said, I will certainly look into that option. It might just give me the motivation I need!! Thanks for the suggestion! -Jenna

  • Desiree says:

    Okay…seriously? Your blog always has me giggling! My daughter is now 13 and in just a few months, she will round that out to an even 14! I can hardly believe it. In my heart, she is this bouncy, smiley and witty little redhead with spirals curls to boot! Now, she’s all of those things only less bouncy and while she is still very witty, it’s masked with teenage angst and attitude. Your blog is a great respite for me as I remember the days when she was little and frankly, way more fun!

    Thank you for sharing your sweet girl and anecdotes with us. I am sad to say that I haven’t read your book but it has just been added to my Amazon list!

    • Aw… glad I can give you a funny reminder of your daughter’s younger days :) Unfortunately, none of my books are available on Amazon yet, as I am still looking for publishing. But please stay tuned! -Jenna

December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Due to extensive holiday travel plans with my family, I am taking two weeks off from posting new material on The Cradle Chronicles. I hope you understand, and will return on Friday, January 3, 2014, to read the next new Cradle Chronicles installment! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this year’s family Christmas photo… I’m pretty sure Gray’s face says it all!

 

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed holiday season. See you in 2014!

 

Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,

Jenna von Oy

 

PS. To join my blog, please subscribe to the RSS feed at the top of your screen!

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